You know you're starting to lose your studenty casualness as soon as, to give just one example, you start making sure the lights on your bike are working. You know you've lost it for good when you find yourself, the morning after a fun night out with friends, fishing out of the canal the things you yourself threw in there a few hours earlier.
In this case the object in question, to avoid being too explicit, is best described as a ‘functional fixture’. It must have been stolen in a moment of yobbish madness, although I've no recollection of the details. What I do know is that by the end of the evening it was lying in the middle of the canal. Or as it turned out the next morning, it was standing there.
Somehow or rather the object had landed in an upright position, so that its shiny form was now protruding from the duckweed. As if a piece of space debris had crashed to earth. It couldn't stay there, that much was clear. The ‘functional fixture’ wasn't easy to recover, but a feeble story and the canoe owned by a helpful family ultimately proved the ingredients for success.
And it's only then, paddling across the wreckage of bicycles and bobbing between empty beer bottles, that it dawns on you: what a lot of rubbish lies hidden under that duckweed. What a lot of people there are who need to come and fish out their garbage. I wonder how many of them will actually do so.